CVSA: Highway funding can’t be weakened

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The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance last week warned Congress that funding commercial motor vehicle safety programs at lower-than-current levels would weaken state enforcement efforts, and that large truck-related injuries and deaths could tick upward.

“We are finally heading in the right direction with a downward trend in heavy truck fatalities,” says Capt. Steve Dowling, CVSA president. “With the economy picking up and highway traffic increasing, I don’t believe we could continue that trend if the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program and state safety grant funds are cut.” Dowling was speaking before the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit during a two-day hearing on the reauthorization of the nation’s surface transportation programs.

CVSA urged Congress to continue to focus funds on enhancing the MCSAP, as there is FMCSA data indicating that roadside inspections and traffic enforcement have a clear and substantial safety benefit, and are providing a tremendous return on the investment of tax dollars. “Through targeted investments, we can improve upon our successes and provide the necessary tools for enhancing enforcement’s ability to remove the unsafe operators from the road,” said Dowling. “We recommend making the safety grant programs more flexible and streamlining the administrative and delivery processes to reflect the reality of today.”

Dowling outlined a number of areas to enhance motor carrier safety and recommendations for streamlining and providing a focus to programs, including flexibility and streamlining of motor carrier safety grant programs, maintenance of effort, bus safety, carrier exemptions from motor carrier safety regulations, truck size and weight, motor carrier safety technologies and carrier registration, credentialing and data integrity. According to CVSA, about 75 percent of all large truck fatalities are multivehicle crashes between cars and large trucks, and flexibility in the use of funds is critical to effectively targeting the problems.